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November 26, 1996

Photograph of a Famous Store in Burkburnett, TX


The Famous Department Store in Burkburnett, Texas, pictured here, flourished for several years, just like Perry’s Famous department Store. Both are now history. Mary Ann Sherrard snapped this photo on a trip through the Texas city a few years ago.


Drawing of Perry's Famous store in 1931
This Was Perry’s Famous Store as it looked in October 1931 when the business was reopened after a damaging fire. It was established on September 16, 1893, the day of the Cherokee Strip run, and survived for some 60 years. The Gottlieb brothers were owners in 1931.

Mary Ann Sherrard did a double take the first time she saw the store in the photo atop today's column. It's the Famous Department Store in Burkburnett, Texas, looking very much like the store with the same name (shown in the sketch) that used to anchor the south side of the square in Perry. It's not certain that the Burkburnett store had any connection with our Famous, but that seems unlikely.

The picture was taken a few, years ago when Mary Ann and her husband, David, were passing through Burkburnett to visit their son, Larry, who at the time lived in Snyder, Texas. Burkburnett, population about 10,000, is just south of the Red River and a few miles northwest of Wichita Falls. David now lives in De Leon, southwest of Fort Worth. Presumably the identical store names were just a coincidence. A friend of the Sherrards, Mrs. Sam Turner of southeast of Perry, used to live in Devol, not far from Burkburnett, and she remembers the Famous store there very well.

The Burkburnett store was in a single story building, while Perry's Famous was in the two-story building where Leroy Rolling's LJR Enterprises is now located. Just like Perry's Famous, the Burkburnett Famous had separate doorway entrances for the men's side and the women's side, but the interior of the store was open. Display windows fronting the Texas store's sidewalk entry area also resembled Perry's, providing generous expanses for mannequins modeling the latest fashions.

Perry's Famous store was Noble county's biggest supplier of apparel for several decades. It was established the day of the great Cherokee Strip run, September 16, 1893, by pioneer merchant James Lobsitz. It was purchased in 1908 by John Knox and Joe Stout, who sold the business to the Gottlieb brothers, Morris, Rudolph, George and Sam, in 1914. The Gottliebs sold the Famous in 1945 to Rice-Stix Co. of St. Louis, but in 1950 the store was closed. Later the Lentz Department Store operated in that location for a few years, but stiff competition and changes in customers' buying habits forced it to close in due time. We understand the Burkburnett store also is just a memory.

Many years have gone by, but Perry's Famous Department Store is still fondly remembered by those who grew up with it. Thanks to Mary Ann Sherrard for furnishing this photo and for helping us bring back thoughts of our Famous.

I used to think it was just wire coat hangers that proliferated in the darkness of closets when no one was looking. As you well know, they multiply spontaneously and become so entangled that it is not possible to remove just one at a time. They only come out in clusters, like those abominable Chinese ring puzzles.

Lately I've become aware that this phenomenon also occurs with paper clips in desk drawers. They have a tendency to snarl themselves into daisy chains. Rubber bands also become hopelessly knotted together all by themselves, with no human help needed. And there seems to be increasing difficulty in plucking one particular writing instrument from among a gaggle of ball point pens and pencils, particularly when too many of them are crammed into a single upright cup holder. You'll find that ink runs dry in the pens while they are just standing there, and the pencils are never sharp or equipped with erasers when they finally come out of the holder.

The challenge is especially severe for those whose finger dexterity is no better than mine. I categorize it as a serious problem in modem living. Perhaps one of today's bright young technology students can come up with a solution to spare our children's children from the same degrees of frustration that so annoy this generation. Do you suppose they're working on it?